Effort made to strengthen intellectual property rights

Updated: 2016-04-12 13:12

By AMY HE in New York(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Effort made to strengthen intellectual property rights

Zhang Xiangchen, deputy China international trade representative, speaking on Monday at the Waldorf Astoria about China-US intellectual property cooperation. Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn

China hopes to strengthen cooperation and exchange on intellectual property rights with the United States, said a Chinese trade official.

The two countries see common interests with the US on IPR, although the concept of intellectual property protection has a long tradition in the US and is only several decades old in China, said Zhang Xiangchen, deputy China international trade representative, speaking at an event on Monday.

"As two countries that encourage innovation, we now see more common interests in IPR, compared with the 100-year history of IPR protection here in the United States, the concept was only introduced into China some 30 years ago," he said.

"Though we made hard efforts, there [is] a lot of room for improvement in this developing country," he added.

Zhang said that as China encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, new technologies and business patterns are becoming crucial to its economic transformation, and thus intellectual property protection and enforcement becomeeven more important.

In 2015, there were more than 2 million patent applications in China, approximately half of those for inventions.

"Of course, we know that the quality of these patents is not comparable to the American ones. And as such, it is particularly important to offer more comprehensive and effective protection of intellectual achievement," said Zhang.

Administrative task forces handled more than 178,000 cases of IPR enforcement last year, with law enforcement handling nearly 21,000 criminal cases, and prosecutors bringing charges in nearly 15,000 of those.

"Protecting IPR is for encouraging innovation. However, overprotection or even abuse of that power will also hinder innovation," Zheng said.

Helen Cheng, a partner at the Zhong Lun Law Firm, said that in her two decades of practicing IP law, she has seen significant changes in the Chinese market.

Two decades ago, Chinese companies were surprised by the concept of IP and were unsure why they needed to protect it, Cheng said. Companies now know what intellectual property is and the importance of protecting it in the face of competition both domestically and internationally, she said.

Adair Zhou, head of IP at Chinese drone maker DJI, based in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong province, said the company heavily emphasized IP practice to meet compliance requirements in foreign countries where it operates.

"When we submit patents, we have to make sure that the claim contents and the claim structures are compliant and meeting the demands of the PTO, JPO and EPO," he said, referring to the US Patent and Trademark Office, the Japan Patent Office and the European Patent Office.

"Among all the peer products in the market, we are the most expensive one and the most advanced one," he said. "That's why we want to make sure our patents get issued in the states as quickly as possible," so that if copycat makers in various countries infringe on DJI's intellectual property, the company can take action, Zhou said.

Speakers at the event also spoke about the importance of enforcing IP laws for multinational companies with businesses in China, many of which face copyright infringement issues with counterfeit products.

"Without assurance of protection of that IP, no business plan, no matter how strong, can be expected to produce a successful business. Whether the distribution model is part of the old-fashioned supply chain, supporting the Internet of Things, or via creative e-commerce models, intellectual property protection is essential to a strong and successful growth model," said Patrick Santillo, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for China at the US Department of Commerce.

Zhang Qiyue, China's consul general in New York, said that intellectual property developed by foreign countries will be regarded as "independently owned and fully protected".

"China's business environment will be more transparent, fair and predictable, thus bringing greater opportunity to foreign investors," she said.

"Intellectual property could very well be one of the many areas of the fruitful cooperation between our two countries, because a strong IPR protection serves our common interests. We are all in this together," she added.